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Frontier Town Sun Stone Saloon

“No problem,” Odette said. “I didn’t know anybody else in the group sang, so, I’m happy things worked out. We’re coworkers now,” she added with another partial grin.

That grin turned bashful, and she sucked her teeth as she briefly averted her gaze. Neither did I, she thought. “I was a stage manager for a year back in Kalos, so I have some experience,” she said. She flinched as she realized what she said, and quickly covered her mouth with her fingertips, eyes wide. She didn’t mean to slip like that; she swore she’d gotten better about it. All it took was the sense of comfort another apparent human gave her, it seemed.

“You didn’t hear that.”

They made it back to the table, and Odette began to reach for her journal again. She was pretty sure she’d written the schedule down on one of the pages. However, she stopped short as Kimiko spoke again.

“Yeah I don’t have plans,” she said. “I can let you look at everything I transcribed. It’s mostly from memory so I can’t guarantee its perfect, but I did my best. And by all means, feel free to add some more. Gods know I probably missed some.”

She went back to the journal and began to flip through it again. “As for your place in the lineup, give me a second…”
"I wouldn't be surprised if there's more than just us," Kimiko replied. "But I am surprised to see someone else actively pursuing it, so I get what you mean. Having someone to talk to about something normal will be..." She paused a moment to try to find the right word. "Welcome," she settled on.

Kimiko had a feeling that Forlas didn't have a Kalos. Something they'd have to be careful of if it proved to be a recurring issue. But for now, Kimiko tilted her head with a curious expression, the tease evident in the tone of her voice. "Hear what? I don't know what you're talking about."

As they reached their table, her tone shifted back to something more casual, more normal. "Anyway, sounds like I'm not the only one with multiple talents. You do kinda have that 'take charge' vibe," she added, recalling hearing the mawile back at the gala. The memory caused Kimiko to glance back at Odette's larger jaws. They were, once again, chained shut. Would it be rude to ask about that? Maybe she should ask about the stage work instead.

No, save that all for later; she was still on the clock and Kimiko had already eaten up a chunk of her break time. Instead she nodded, eyeing the journal as she waited for Odette to give her her schedule. "Oh, I'm not here intending to correct your notes. You've already infused some new sounds to this place and by your own admission, that's been a hit among the patrons. So I figured they'll approve of more of that new and unique 'off-worlder' flavor. Adding further variety, y'know?"
Odette did her best not to let it show on her face, but something about Kimiko's compliment certainly made that bashfulness intensify. "Better me than some fuckhead with their thumb up their ass," she said. A pause as she squinted at nothing in particular. "Provided they actually have thumbs." She shook her head and went back to flipping through her journal.

She glanced back at Kimiko from the corner of her eye, raising her brow. "No, I know," she said. "That's what I meant. If you know some more songs that might work for a show, by all means, add them to the roster. Use them in your sets." She thumbed through a few more pages. "Though I should point out that they're a hit because they're controversial. Those that like them really like them, and those that don't, well...you'll hear it. But the good outweighs the bad if you want my honest opinion." That was the best way to put it without mentioning any of her weird stage fright backstory. "And the tips are in good supply, so...we can head to the shops and go over my formula for a good outfit after your first show."

She eventually landed on a page, and her eyes lit up. She was quiet for a bit as she looked over it, muttering incoherently to herself. With a breath, she pulled out a pen.

"Okay, so...I don't know what your schedule is like, but I do evenings on Plainsday, Tidesday, Drakesday, and Faesday. I'll do some waitressing on Monday and Embersday if I don't have anything else to do or want the extra cash flow. I can put you on for a similar schedule on alternating days or start you off with the daytime breakfast or lunch hours." She was still getting used to the fact that there were eight days in the week and had to take a second to right her sense of time. "To start, perhaps I could have you shadow some of my sets, get used to the band, the crowd vibe, and the like, and we can work you into the schedule from there and see how it flies. I'm sure if what you initially pick doesn't work for you after a while, we can do some moving around down the road."

Tapping her pen on the cover of the journal, she eyed Kimiko as if prompting her for a response. "Thoughts?"
"Okay, good. I just wanted to be sure there was no room for misunderstanding. I'm a little sensitive about stepping on people's toes, I guess. Both figuratively and literally. Provided they actually have toes." Kimiko couldn't help but grin. Odette was easy to talk to.Her nerves had settled immensely now that actually getting the job had been taken care of. It was down to just picking up the routine and actually playing the shows. That was the easy part. Impulsive though it was, this had been the right move.

"Wouldn't be the first time I've heard a complaint or two," she admitted with a light shrug. "It'll be a balancing act of figuring out which songs are more popular and which of the less popular ones can still pass, I'm sure. And there'll always be hecklers. Can't please everyone, y'know?"

Kimiko felt both excited and self-conscious at the idea of a shopping trip. Odette had clearly noticed her outfit... or lack thereof. But Kimiko brought it up first a bit earlier, and this was the mawile's area of expertise, was it not? Yes, surely this was that stage manager's experience and nothing more. "I'd appreciate the pointers," she said sheepishly.

Her head began to spin at the listing of dates. She hadn't yet wrapped her head around the concept of eight-day weeks, and hardly recognized the names of the days. Even so, if she were being given a say in what her schedule would be, there was one thing she could say with certainty. "Morning people are a wonder. I am not one of them. Alternating evenings sounds great."

With a small sigh, she admitted, "My schedule's pretty flexible, Cloud duties aside, so I can fill in wherever I'm needed once I get into the swing of things. Easing into it and getting familair with the band and the atmosphere will help with that." Another glance back towards the seating area. "I hadn't considered waitressing, but I can do that if need be, too."
Odette chuckled lightly at the morning person comment. “We have our moments,” she said. “But I’ll put you down for the other days. You could probably get away with not doing any serving stuff, I was merely doing it for the extra coin and gossip in my ear.” Her smile became a little mischievous, and she shrugged. “Words are flying in here all the time.”

After she scribbled some stuff down in her journal, she closed it. “I think we’re on the same page then. I think I’ll have you shadow for about a week, but if you’re comfortable enough after a few days, I’m down to cut you loose sooner. We can talk after my shift about songs and clothes and the like. I’m sure you’re staying at the Haus, so we can grab a bite and talk more over that.”

Stretching her arms up above her head, she inhaled a deep breath, one that indicated she was enjoying the stretch. “Questions? Comments? Concerns? Allergies?”
There was an angle Kimiko hadn't considered. Places like this were full of people chatting freely, so it made sense that Odette would be overhearing rumors and gossip and such. Who knew how likely they were to be anything of value, but the chances of that were higher than doing one-off solo jobs and hoping to stumble onto something.

"Gossip, huh? Hear anything interesting lately? I assume a lot of it is probably about us - the off-worlders, I mean."

Again, she nodded, comfortable in deferring to Odette's experience. She probably would be fine with less than week of shadowing under normal circumstances, but getting used to 'you're gonna be here for a while' was probably... gonna take some time to adapt to. "Yeah, I'm staying at the Haus," she replied, once again looking over the building's interior. There were rooms here... she wondered if she'd be able to afford it on her new (probably better than the Magic Job Board offered) salary.

Finally, as Odette stretched, Kimiko chuckled. "No, no, yes, and peanuts." It was stupid, but it made her laugh, anyway. But then her eyes drifted back to the chains and she couldn't help herself. Her eyes darted back and forth a few times between Odette's face and her jaws as Kimiko asked, "Actually, I do have a question, but it's not about the schedule... do they bite?"
"Pretty much exclusively about us and some Yellow-Journalism-grade crap about Ignumbnuts. Though, I'd be mostly unsurprised if any of them wound up being true."

Smirking to herself, she nodded as Kimiko riffed off her statement. Good to know this was at least a person she could go back and forth with without it being too awkward. So far, the conversation had been pretty tame, with no stumbling or foot-in-mouth moments on her end. Of course, things like that never lasted.

As she eased her stretch, she looked up just in time to see the snivy's final glance at her jaws, and she somehow knew what was coming next. If she was made uncomfortable by the question, she sure as shit didn't let it show anywhere on her person.

Instead, she offered a bit of a wry smile. "Hard," she said drily. "Literally and figuratively."
Odette's quick and easy answer relieved whatever tension Kimiko built up from asking about her jaws. Clearly it took a lot to really rattle her - and it wasn't like it was a secret that the big mouth could be loud.

So Kimiko shot back her own grin again. "Find any takers yet?"

It took a few seconds for her to realize what she'd just said. Better not dwell on that. "Er... in all seriousness, though... What's up with that? If you don't mind sharing, of course. I've never seen a 'mon with it's own limbs chained up. I mean, I guess it would be bad for business if every patron went home with bite marks, but... you can control that, right?"
Her grin turned slightly rancorous, just in time for a waitress to come around with another pitcher of water for her. Though, Greasewood must have sent it, because she was carrying two glasses instead of one. Odette didn't hesitate to pour herself some, and took a large gulp before responding.

"A few. None more prominent than the likes of the jackholes who tried to torch us in the mansion. But a few." The next sip she took indicated she wasn't keen on elaborating any more than that.

But, this snivy was persistent. Odette sent her a sidelong glance, the glass still up to her lips. After swallowing again, she sat it down and pushed it slightly out of reach, pursing her lips in a pensive manner.

How did she want to explain it away? She had given the vague breakdown to Bellatrix, but Bellatrix had indicated she came from a place where she might understand the idea of a possession. The very thing that gave Jawile her voice. Although they were now coworkers, it was still safe to say all Odette knew about Kimiko was that she was a former human and that she had a good set of vocal chops. That didn't exactly indicate the makings of a "let me tell you about my demonic legendary problem" partner.

"It's a...long, very...bizarre story," she said, squinting through her internal decision on what words to use. "But I'll humor you with the blunt answer: no, I can't control that. Simply put, they have a mind of their own. Voice and all." She reached her hand back and took some of the loose chains in her fingers, tugging on them as if ensuring they were still locked in place. "Consider these a sort of muzzle. I don't need my second maw telling dick jokes while I'm trying to sing a song about someone drowning, you know? Or taking 'love bites' out of my tippers for that matter."
Well, that was a more substantial reply than Kimiko expected to get, but it did bring to mind a concern she hadn't thought about. Only the mayor had been taken away. She had no idea what had become of the other two that had been supporting him, nor most of the guests. But the possibility existed that they were among the people she'd have to schmooze here. Not a highly appealing notion, but not one she figured she couldn't work through, anyway. Still, she hoped her displeasure hadn't shown on her face before she caught herself.

She found she wasn't terribly surprised to hear that the jaws had a mind of their own, however Odette had taken a while to say so, a clear sign that she hadn't been eager to. And yet, she still gave an admission. Probably best not to pry into it, then, but knowing there was a story here somewhere only made Kimiko more curious, and she couldn't quite entirely help herself.

"That's fair. Probably better to let the tippers tell you their unsolicited preferences rather than force one on 'em yourself." A dry chuckle this time, then her more regular casual voice was back. "I've never heard of a case of a mawile having two separate... personalities in the same body, like a doduo. What's it like? Can you like... hear each others' thoughts?"
Relentless, Odette thought. She supposed she opened the door for that one, so she couldn't be that annoyed.

"Something like that," she said with a nod. More like two sides of the same personality, she thought bitterly. "It's complicated. In the end, I still have most of the higher thought."

The stem of the jaws twitched, and she cringed almost unnoticeably. "For the most part."

It was there the lights dimmed, and applause filled the room again. Odette downed what was left of her water and stood up. "Well, that's my cue. Feel free to stick around if you don't have anything better to do. We can start your shadowing now."

Clearing her throat, she approached Kimiko and outstretched a hand. "Pleasure meeting you, and welcome to Sun Stone. I'm looking forward to duetting with you."
"My evening's free," Kimiko responded, glancing back at the bar. She could stick around and get some food, which is what she'd been looking for originally anyway, and get a taste of what else Odette was performing.

She shook the mawile's hand with a vine. "Right back at ya. And thanks for indulging my curiosity." Then she nodded up towards the stage. "Now, go show me what else you got!"

[Ch03] ~ The First Team Meeting
Monday, 13th of Winds

The upper floor of Sun Stone held a lounge-bar that felt almost out of place in Frontier Town – it had an Art Nouveau style more fitting a modern, developed metropolis (or so Laura imagined). In any case, it felt fancy. More importantly, it was a comfortable, private indoor space large enough to hold the two or three dozen heroic spirits in the team. After only a few weeks, she'd not had a chance to talk to all of them, let alone get to know them. Today was as good a day as any to make a start, though.

More importantly, different groups in the team had met with (and fought) everyone from the Soja' Rangers, to a member of the elusive 'Covenant of Light', to the resistance group called the Vanguard. They'd encountered Shadow pokémon. It was about time they got everyone in the team caught up. And maybe named the team something better than 'the team'.

She waved to Jade, catching sight of the other Meowth among some of the party members still arriving from downstairs. Hopefully everyone would show, but it was still a relief every time a friendly face turned up. And on that note...

"Hey," she whispered. "Voice? Cloud? Are you here?"

Hello, Laura! I can just barely make contact. If you are holding a meeting, I expect I will be able to communicate freely with everyone once enough of them gather together!
Good enough. More people were still arriving, but she should probably start the meeting soon... They couldn't wait all night for anyone who'd decided not to show.

Laura sipped her drink – a mojito with an oran twist – and silently willed someone to come say hi. And maybe help her with the whole, deeply terrifying, 'talking to a large crowd' thing.
Bellatrix, of course, made it a point to make it early. She was lying down on one of the many lounge seats, resting her chin on the back of one of her paws. She looked deep in thought, clearly she had a lot to say, but for now she was waiting for more people to filter in.

She acknowledged Laura with a nod. Curt but nonetheless polite. It seemed that Bellatrix wasn't going to let any prior disagreements to get in the way of this meeting, nor would she flinch if either Laura or the electrike decided to throw a tantrum because they couldn't stand her.
Jade sat down next to Laura with a root beer in one paw, tapping the other paw on the edge of the table. Watching everyone file upstairs, she couldn’t help being reminded of the team meetings back on the Rebellion. Except that everyone wasn’t twelve, which was hopefully a point in this team’s favor. (Although… at least all the rebel kids wanted to be there—she wasn’t so sure with this group.)

“So, uh team meeting. Right. Guessing we gotta talk about that Shadow Pokemon stuff?” At least, Jade was assuming that was the most serious thing they’d run into so far, which hopefully meant that it was the problem that’d summoned them all here to begin with.
Normally, Kimiko would prefer to hang back and blend into the crowd. Having their meeting at her place of employment, though, spurred her enough to show up early to help prep the meeting area; cleaning up, making it as comfortable as possible, and thanking Greasewood for allowing them the use of the lounge upstairs.

Kimiko settled herself in behind the bar area. As 'mon made their way upstairs, she made sure to greet them as she was able, and made clear that while she wasn't officially on the clock (being a waitress wasn't really her job, anyway), she'd be happy to fetch drinks as they were needed.
Gladion made his way straight into the private room, not having anything else to do nor having any reason to get a drink first given he wouldn't actually be drinking it. Those two factors led to him being earlier than he would realistically have liked to be— with a phone, or even a watch if he could see one easily, he could have made a point of coming in a minute or two after the scheduled start to avoid such a fate, but now he had no such chance.

"Alright. I guess we're doing this. Anything much happened outside the Bedaurejo meeting?"
Koa wasn't about to let the presence of the smug little zorua bother him. Not when they were finally having the long overdue meeting he was desperate to. He'd made sure to get the time and place from Laura and get there on time. Maybe the others had found something helpful.

He murmured a greeting to Laura though, and tried to offer his best 'you got this' look. He definitely didn't envy her position. He glanced at Jade as she spoke. "For whatever its worth, one of the rangers we fought mentioned the shadow pokemon- er withching beast things sometimes have the appearance of missing pokemon. Thinking pokemon," he added.
Nova's entrance was as loud as a burly chimera walking up squeaky stairs could be. The null went as far into the room as he needed not to block the doorway and sat on the floor. He swung his bag around and made sure his forelegs could reach it.

For now, everyone else could do the talking. It wasn't like he had much to contribute. Well, outside of one thing. But shadow 'mons were more important.
Ridley made his way into the Sunstone Saloon, his brain buzzing and feeling halfway to overflowing with the desire to communicate what he'd learnt while talking with Dave and the Voice. He tried to press that energy down. Most of what he knew either wasn't vital or was known by so many people that it would obviously come up in discussion. He needed to focus on the topic he possibly had the most knowledge of, which was -

Ah, there was Laura, sipping a drink and looking profoundly uncomfortable about the whole situation. Didn't she work at the Gazette? Wasn't talking to people her whole deal? Maybe she was having problems with the concept of leading a meeting or being the focus of attention, rather than acting as an observer.

Ridley made his way up to her. "Hey," he said. "I don't know what you've got planned for this meeting, but I've got something I think is worth bringing up. The shadow pokemon - the Witching Beasts, right? - people who've had contact with them seem to be receiving hostile dream messages afterwards, similar to how the Voice communicates with us. Dave and I talked to Voice about it and they don't seem to think it's any more dangerous than the shadow pokemon are by default, but also they don't know much about the topic at all. Regardless, I think this is something the group as a whole should know about."

Jade was sitting next to Laura; had she heard that message too? Ridley hoped so, or else his warning might lose some of its impact.
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